Sam’s No. 3 (Lighter) Kickin’ Green Chili


Sam’s No. 3 (Lighter) Kickin’ Green Chili is a lighter, copycat recipe from Sam’s No. 3 in Denver, Colorado!


Howdy all!

Tell me a lovely tale from your weekend, I’d love to hear it!

Ben and I layed so low that it was borderline ridiculous! I feel like I’ve been running around like a crazy person since the middle of June though, so it was much needed.

Saturday, we drove a couple hours east to spend the day with Ben’s family that lives out in Cedar Rapids, then today we used the drizzly skies and cool temps as an excuse to hang out at home, get some laundry done, and COOK FALL THINGS like Sam’s No. 3 Kickin’ Green Chili!


This green chili-spiked, thick and slightly spicy chili hails from Sam’s No. 3 in Denver, CO – the joint featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives that Ben and I ate at while visiting my little bro earlier this summer – and I’ve been waiting since the minute we slid out of our cozy booth at the restaurant to recreate it at home. This cool, drizzy, late-summer Sunday felt like the perfect day to do it.

Luckily the recipe for Sam’s famous chili, which I used to smother the cheesy breakfast burrito I ordered at the restaurant, is available on the Food Network’s website, except, oh right, it’s big enough to feed an army and contains THREE STICKS OF BUTTER.

Well, not only did I scale the recipe down to feed a family-sized crowd, but I made it tons healthier too. You will love this chili – it is totally going into my Fall and Winter chili/soup/stew rotation!


Start with 1-1/2lbs pork shoulder trimmed and cut it into bite-sized pieces. I got 3lb for $5 at the grocery store today – it is an awesome, tender, and inexpensive cut!


Toss the pork into 1 Tablespoon canola oil heated in huge Dutch oven or soup pot, then let it cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat. Pork shoulder is best cooked low and slow, so make sure your temp stays at medium no matter what, mmkay?


After 10 minutes are up, sprinkle in a bunch of aromatic seasonings including 1-3/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon dried oregano flakes, 1 teaspoon granulated garlic, 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder, and 3/4 teaspoons pepper.


Followed by 1 chopped onion (or meticulously hand grated if your husband has a serious aversion to crunchy onions!)


Let the pork cook for another five minutes in the seasonings and onions, until it’s cooked all the way through, then add in 3 large tomatoes that have been peeled and chopped fine.


Here’s a great tip for peeling tomatoes as taught to me by my father circa 1993 during his short-lived, yet extremely intense, canning phase. I think there are still some pickled beets in my parent’s basement that will outlive us all.

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Anyways, slice the top off your tomatoes, then cut a small “x” on the bottom. Plunge them into boiling water for 10-15 seconds, then remove to a colander.

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As soon as they’re cool enough to handle, slip the tomato right out of its peel, then zip ’em through a food processor, or chop ’em up real fine. Whichever you please!


To the fresh tomatoes, add 1 can petite-cut diced tomatoes and the ingredients that give Sam’s No. 3 Kickin’ Green Chili its namesake KICK:


2 minced jalapenos and 2, 4oz cans diced green chilies. The combo of these two heat sources is SO good, but not too spicy, actually!

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Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cook for 5 minutes. FYI – my fresh tomato chunks were a bit too large for my liking (I’m a wee bit psychotic about chunky tomatoes,) so I used a potato masher to smooth things out.


Next add 4 cups chicken broth, and bring the chili to a rolling boil.


While the chili’s coming to a boil, melt 1/4 cup butter in a small saucepan over medium heat then sprinkle in 1/4 cup flour. Whisk until smooth then let it cook, whisking every so often, for 1 minute.

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Finally, sloooowly drizzle the butter/flour mixture into the chili while violently whisking to ensure that everything stays nice and creamy.


Turn off the heat, let the chili thicken for 5 minutes, then ladle into the sweetest little mini chili pots you can find (these are from Ben’s Chili Bowl in DC, courtesy of my in-laws!) and serve!


Sam’s No. 3 (Lighter) Kickin’ Green Chili

Print this recipe!

Serves a crowd

Adapted from Sam’s No. 3 via Food Network

1 Tablespoon canola oil
1-1/2 lbs pork shoulder, trimmed & cut into bite-sized pieces
salt & pepper
1 onion, grated or chopped
1-3/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano flakes
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
3/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
3 large tomatoes, peeled & chopped small
14.5oz can petite diced tomatoes
2, 4oz cans green chilies
1-2 jalapenos (depending on how spicy you want it), minced
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour


  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Add pork, season with salt and pepper, then cook for 10 minutes. Add onion and spices then cook until pork is no longer pink in the center, about 5 more minutes. Add fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, green chilies, and jalapenos, then bring chili to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add chicken broth, increase heat to medium-high and bring chili to a rolling boil.
  2. While chili is coming up to a rolling boil, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat then whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute. Very slowly drizzle mixture into the boiling chili, whisking the chili vigorously the entire time. Turn off heat, give chili one last big stir, then let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Serving suggestions: Topped with shredded cheese, Tabasco sauce, and crushed tortilla chips, or smothering quesadillas or burritos.


This chili is the best! Great when eaten alone, and beyond amazing when smothering a gooey cheese quesadilla, which is what I made for Ben.


Since I have to get into a swim suit next weekend (SHRIEK! Details TK) I went the lighter route and crushed a few tortilla chips and sprinkled a bit of freshly grated cheddar cheese on top.


HELLS to the YES!

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Oh, don’t forget a few hearty dashes of green Tabasco sauce, either. It gives this already kickin’ recipe a spicy/tangy/vinegary BOOT that I just love. ;)


Ok – it’s Olympic closing ceremony time! At one point earlier this week I was wondering (in a good way) when the heck they would ever end. Now that it’s here, I almost can’t stand it! I suppose it will be nice to have a life after 7pm again, AND turn the TVs off for the first time in 2 weeks…sheesh!

Have a great Monday everyone!


Are you ready for the return of cozy, Fall foods yet?

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  1. marnie 08.12.2012

    We had plans to come to des moines tonight! we wanted to see Matisyahu outside at the outdoor/river venue downtown! We backed out last minute, and it kind of makes me happy the weather is yucky…i feel like i’m not missing out!
    Your chili sounds perfect for a night like tonight!

  2. Whitney 08.12.2012

    I ran my first 10K trail run! I’m hooked!

    That chili looks great! I’ll have to try it out.

  3. jennyv 08.12.2012

    I’m definitely ready for fall — definitely my favorite season of the year! Hearty chili and delicious pumpkin bars are my favorite fall foods.

    Your green chili looks great — there is something about chili verde in CO. Wish it was an IA staple!

  4. Kristen 08.12.2012

    We had wonderful weather, walked a lot through a nearby park, attended a picnic fundraiser and did all the errands, etc.

    Do you think this would be equally good with chicken? I was thinking thighs might be inexpensive and fatty enough to cook like the pork. Thoughts? Thanks!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 08.13.2012

      I’m sure it would! I haven’t worked much with thighs, but if you used chicken breasts, I would add the onions and chicken to the oil, cook until the chicken is cooked through, then add the spices and cook for another minute before continuing on!

  5. Lindsey 08.12.2012

    I was on vacation this past week in Maine and on Friday, I got engaged! My fiance and I have been together nearly seven years, but he managed to make it a completely sweet and unexpected surprise. Best weekend I’ve had in a long time!

  6. Eve P 08.12.2012

    The chili looks fabulous, need to “pin” this for later use. My last weekend before going back into the classroom was great. My husband and I had a kid-free night Friday and celebrated our 10th anniversary with a relaxing dinner out. Saturday we (he while I wrangled the kids)did some work around the outside of the house. Today we drove up to Minnesota to help our three-year old Goddaughter celebrate her 3rd birthday. It was so cold and dreary on the drive home that we “hillbillied” it and bought the boys towels from a dollar store to cuddle.

  7. The chili looks amazing. I can’t wait to try the recipe out. In fact, this entire website is extremely well done. The quality of photos and attention to detail are impressive!

  8. Mindy 08.12.2012

    My sweet husband took me to the Gulf for the weekend. I have made birding a hobby, specifically to photograph them. I was thrilled to see in the shaddows of a tree, a Great Horned Owl. We were having to much fun to go home but that one sighting made my day!
    I very much enjoy your recipes and Daily Escapes. Thanks for the fun reading!

  9. Trisha 08.12.2012

    I hate the end of summer, but I must admit that the cooler temps this weekend were a-okay in my book. Don’t tell anyone, but I too, am looking forward to some of my fall favorites.
    We had a jam packed weekend, including a super fun beer festival followed by a not-so-fun hangover today!
    Sad to see the Olympics go but so stoked about the Spice Girls reunion! ;)

  10. Ali 08.12.2012

    I’m a former Iowa girl… and I love your blog. And I love seeing HyVee foods in your photos. We got our first HyVee in Madison a year or so ago… such a nice reminder of home!

    Carry on, Iowa girl, carry on!

  11. Definitely ready – bring on the pumpkin and the butternut squash, baby. :-)

  12. Rachel 08.12.2012

    I made up a huge batch of cupcakes to take to a coworker’s open house yesterday, and they were apparently a huge hit! Other than that, I’m happy just to have gotten all the laundry done today (it’s even put away!). That chili looks super-awesome…It was cool enough here, I made pasta for the first time in MONTHS!

  13. Marci Johnson 08.12.2012

    It’s been nice and cool this weekend. Almost like a fall preview. I cannot wait. I love fall. AND I love chili!!

  14. I went to the Chicago White Sox game on Friday and Sunday. The weather was perfect and they won both games so it turned out to be a great weekend.

    As far as your chili, I would love to try it. It looks delicious.

  15. Bill Baker 08.13.2012

    What does the flour and butter do that just four alone wouldn’t do?
    Just sat fat conscious.
    Thanks for sharing this recipe with nice pictures and commentary.
    Can’t wait to make it.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 08.13.2012

      The flour and butter combine to make a roux which thickens the soup. If you just added flour by itself it would taste like raw flour. That said, you could leave the roux out and the chili would be thinner, but still taste great! Also (sorry) this makes a HUGE pot of chili, so each serving contains 1 teaspoon or less of butter.

    • Laura 08.13.2012

      You can make an (unorthodox) roux using oil such as golden olive and flour to reduce the saturated fat in this recipe. Alternatively, if you mix cornstarch or arrowroot in a little cold water and then pour it in during the last stages, making sure that the temperature of the chilli has reduced from boiling point that should also thicken it pretty well without the roux. Another option is to add some blended cooked beans or bean flour

  16. Laura 08.13.2012

    this looks sooo good! you think it could be done in a slow cooker? im thinking you could put it on low all day, then right before serving, stir in the butter/flour mixture? what do you think?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 08.13.2012

      I bet it could! Let me know if you try it out – I’d love to recreate!

  17. Celeste B. 08.13.2012

    Did the pork get tender? Seems you would need to cook it longer. I agree with the post above by Laura…all day in the slow cooker would be amazing (maybe use a little less chicken broth), then thicker at the end right before eating. I have a bunch of anaheim chiles in my garden that will be ready in a week or two. Think this would be a perfect recipe to use them in.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 08.13.2012

      Super tender! Since you cut the pieces real small (bite sized) and cook them low and slow they get real nice and melty. Also – fresh peppers would be great. Click on the “Food Network” link under the recipe for quantities/instructions for including!

  18. Misty Cordell 08.13.2012

    Hi, I was wondering if I could use ground beef or stew meat instead. My hubby is more of a beef person than a pork person lol!

    @Bill Baker, you could probably mix some cornstarch and water to add to chili instead of flour and butter. I’m not sure, but I do it all the time to thicken up my soups, stews, gravies, etc.

  19. I tried your Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Mac and Cheese over the weekend and it was d-licious! Adding this one to the list as well :)

  20. Bethany 08.13.2012

    We were in a fall food mood yesterday too! We made homemade chicken and wild rice soup and chicken alfredo… none of which were as healthy as your soup!

  21. Ashley 08.13.2012

    I am ready for fall – my favorite season. My husband has already reminded me twice this weekend that it will soon be pumpkin bread season! We always look forward to Pork and Pumpkin Chilil, we found the recipe a few years back in an issue of Food Network Magazine — it is our favorite chili!! I would recommend checking it out sometime!

  22. I am SO ready for the return of fall! I just love everything about it. The smells, the food, the colors, the sports, everything!

  23. adam 08.13.2012

    Hmmm, this is an interesting take on chili, but i like it. I was interested to see that there was no use of Chili Powder at all. I’ll have to give this a shot, but I can tell you that I’m not going to call it chili at first. I’ll just have to let them get used to the idea that Chili does not have to be the traditional.

    This weekend we went to Besh’s August (New Orleans) and it was truly a delightful experience. From the moment we walked in the door we felt like we were king and queen. We started with a duck dumpling in a curry broth with mixed local veggies. I had the lamb belly on a bed of ratatouille and mixed veggies (can you say crispy squash blossoms? So good.) She had the Breaded “trout Pontchartrain” jumbo lump crab, wild mushrooms, and sauce hollandaise, both were out of this world!

  24. I’ve been itching to make soup…but feel like I can’t until at least September. Maybe I’m wrong!

  25. Mary 08.13.2012

    We celebrated my 2nd son’s (I have three boys and one baby girl) 4th birthday this weekend, so lots of grilling and good cooking going on! Since Fall is my favorite season, like, EVER, I simply cannot wait for the milder weather and a good excuse to go crazy with soups, stews, chowders, and bisques! As always, love your blog!

  26. Lauren T 08.13.2012

    It’s funny how everyone seems to be so ready for fall already and it’s still August! I blame the brutal summer because I’m definitely ready for fall too!
    I went to the Iowa State Fair this weekend for the first time. It was fun to experience :)
    This chili looks really good! Can’t wait to try it when the leaves start changing colors :)

  27. That chili is getting me in the mood for Fall and looks delish! I’m with you on the Olympics….I need to get to bed at a normal hour. ;) Love the tomato trick. That will definitely come in handy.

  28. Melanie 08.13.2012

    I am SO ready for Fall cooking! And for Fall in general. I imagine you are already aware of this but I thought I’d share my trick for easy pulverizing of onions because my niece enjoys the flavor but hates the texture. I use my mini-chopper to grind them into a paste-like texture. Very, very simple. That whole “meticulous hand grating” seems like WAY too much work!! Thanks for sharing your recipes. I love them.

  29. Katie 08.13.2012

    I love Hy-Vee! It gives me a silly little thrill seeing their products in the pictures. :)

  30. 1) I don’t understand an aversion to crunchy onions! Totally my favorite kind.

    2) COMPLETELY understand, on the other hand, an aversion to chunky tomatoes. Hate it.

  31. Bri 08.13.2012

    Low key weekend! Went to dinner with my dad who’s in town. Then Laundry Sunday.

    This chili looks great! I’ve been wanting Fall everything lately, too. Fall foods, fall candles, fall clothes, crisp temps and even football!

  32. I have that bowl and ladle spoon! We got ours at a trail race in MN. Where did you find yours?

  33. Kath 08.13.2012

    The return of fall foods always means that winter’s just around the corner. Can’t escape it! (And I live in Canada, meaning cold, cold, wet slushy COLD. Mannnn. I want it to be forever summer.)
    This weekend, me, my boyfriend and some of our friends went to a music festival in Montreal. Got to practice my French, hear some amazing bands, and party harder than I have in a loooooong time!

  34. YUM!!! I almost can’t wait for soup season!!

  35. Cheryl 08.14.2012

    Am I ready? I’ve been scheduling out when I can make caramel apples without seeming like a crazy person! Fall is by far the best season.

    This chili looks remarkable. What a refreshing take on the typical ground-beef-kidney-beans rendition, which gets old in my book. Can’t wait to try! Totally pinning. Making your Chick-fil-A nuggets tonight! Get ready for a pingback in the next few days :)

  36. Lu 08.14.2012

    Oh wow that looks amazing. And such a cute way to serve it!! :)

  37. Sam's No. 3 08.15.2012

    Love the healthy tweaks to the recipe!
    You did an awesome job! It looks delicious.
    You can definitely make it with beef or chicken, pork is traditional for green chili, but really any meat works without drastically changing the flavor.

  38. Sole 08.16.2012

    I love that Green Chili Sauce! I put that Sh*t on everything…lol

  39. Laura 10.07.2012

    I made this the other night and it was sooo good! I added some chili powder and habanero to heat it up a little more. We like it hot :)

  40. Rebecca 10.29.2012

    This is my husband and my new favorite chili – try it with Garden of Eatin’ Red Hot Blues tortilla chips. They are absolutely perfect with it!

  41. Amanda 10.23.2013

    I haven’t tried this soup yet … however i’m about 2 hours in. Didn’t realize how long this was going to take

    • Amanda 10.27.2013

      WOW this soup was so good! Eating my last bowl today. Will def make again. Made a mistake of buying canned Jalapanos instead of green chilis so I did not add extra jalapano. However, added a pinch of cayenne. YUMMMM. You can eat it plain or add all the extras good for everyone

  42. […] by a spicy green chili Ben and I enjoyed on a trip to Colorado, Sam’s No. 3 Lighter Kickin’ Green Chili lightens up the restaurant’s original recipe, but keeps all the […]

  43. […] Note: This is unusually high-fat with 3 sticks of butter. For a lower-fat version, cut both butter and flour to 1 stick butter and 1/3 cup flour. It makes surprisingly little difference.  Also check out the lighter version by Iowa Girl Eats here. […]

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